Definition of oriental in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɔːrɪˈɛnt(ə)l/
Pronunciation: /ɒrɪˈɛnt(ə)l/
(also Oriental)


1Of, from, or characteristic of Asia, especially East Asia: oriental countries
More example sentences
  • The works involve extremely simple figures, outlined by elegant and light curves, typical of oriental art.
  • Subsequent years saw the character of Sofia change from an oriental outpost to a European city, a trend that continues.
  • Fenellosa, on the other hand, continually said that there were also outstanding arts in the oriental tradition.
eastern, Chinese, Japanese
1.1 (Oriental) Zoology Relating to or denoting a zoogeographical region comprising Asia south of the Himalayas and Indonesia west of Wallace’s line. Distinctive animals include pandas, gibbons, tree shrews, tarsiers, and moonrats.
Example sentences
  • The Oriental Crested Ibis used to have a wide distribution in eastern China, Russia, Japan and Korea, but clearance of the forests, pesticides and changes in rice-farming practices led to a dramatic decline.
2(Of a pearl or other jewel) orient.
Example sentences
  • The green lion symbolizes an emerald or an oriental sapphire and means stature and robust person, wealth, cool and courageous, stable and sincere, unconditional love.
  • The most spectacular consisted of a ‘large round cup in oriental onyx, mount and ornaments in fine chased, enamelled gold.


A person of Asian, especially East Asian, descent.


The term oriental has an out-of-date feel as a term denoting people from Asia; it tends to be associated with a rather offensive stereotype of the people and their customs as inscrutable and exotic. In US English Asian is the standard accepted term in modern use; in British English, where Asian tends to denote people from the Indian subcontinent, specific terms such as Chinese or Japanese are more likely to be used.



Pronunciation: /ɔːrɪˈɛnt(ə)lʌɪz/
Pronunciation: /ɒrɪˈɛnt(ə)lʌɪz/
(also orientalise) verb
Example sentences
  • She has been orientalized, eroticized, glorified, blamed.
  • Most likely, someone can object, what I am trying to do here is orientalize the Japanese, and find in the feet of the women, in the way they walk, a kind of last bastion of old Japan, a sign of the exotic.
  • Elsewhere, Mainland critic Dai Jinhua has argued that because Zhang Yimou has orientalized himself for a Western audience, he assumes a passively feminine position.


Example sentences
  • He recognised theatrical quality wherever he found it, and was not afraid to use the unusual, as in his orientally costumed 1955 King Lear.
  • In the words of the composer's wife, Nora Pärt, ‘tiny contrasting musical segments - orientally tinted monody and chordal density - converge yet produce a gently flowing stream of music.’
  • The completed water spout is a charming and simple orientally themed water feature.


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin orientalis, from orient- (see orient).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: orien|tal

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